Neiko’s Five Land Adventure
The Neiko Adventure Saga
The Neiko Adventure Saga
Genre: YA Fantasy Action Adventure
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Date of Publication: September 1, 2010
Number of pages: 354
Word Count: Approx 101K
Cover Artist: A.K. Taylor, Kristeen
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The Indians and the Crackedskulls are locked in the turmoil of war and presently in a stalemate. Her enemies, Raven and Bloodhawk, have come up with a scheme to up the ante and break the stalemate into their favor. Neiko later finds out that a land she thought she had only imagined is actually real and contains a legendary and otherworldly evil within it. Not only that, she becomes trapped there and must escape the world, the people within it, and the sinister evil within.
Neiko must find her way back home and turn the tables on her enemies. Can she come back home and escape the evil that seeks to claim her?
After her eyes adjusted to the glare, the two friends could see there was a cavern that was full of perfect crystals. They were in all shapes, sizes, and colors and they came out of the walls, floor, and ceiling. The beauty was spellbinding. “Wow! If I found this in Hawote, then I’d be rich! This is a rock collector’s dream come true!”
“Yeah, but didn’t you say that there were writings about Ramses somewhere in here? I wonder where the ruins of Shadazar are,” Quickstrike rambled.
“Somewhere in here, I guess, and I think we’re close. Let’s keep walking and look at the walls. If there are any branch-offs, then we’ll split up. If you find anything, then come looking.”
“Actually, I’d rather stick together, so we won’t get separated.”
“Good idea, well, I like that idea better too,” she said as they journeyed deep into the caverns. They walked and looked at the walls, but all they found were arrangements and shapes created by crystal; they gleamed and sparkled when the light hit them like multicolored diamonds. Luckily for them, there were no branch-offs, and the caverns appeared as if they were carved into the crystal. New formations were growing in the hewn walls.
Neiko found several broken pieces on the cavern floor; she picked them up and slipped them into her pocket.
“Look, there’s an exit up ahead,” said Quickstrike as he saw a break in the glamour and a darkened cave. As they entered the door, darkness overtook them and there were ruins just ahead. “We found what’s left of ancient Shadazar!”
“Yeah, and we have an underground lake to cross. I wonder what’s on the other side.”
“I dunno, but I’ve noticed the further we go in, the further we go back in time, so that could mean the writings are probably after the lake. How do we get across?”
“There’s a boat right there.” They climbed into the boat, and Neiko got the oars and began to paddle while Quickstrike carried the torch. They could see broken columns and the remains of a bridge that possibly was a shortcut long ago towering over them. She kept paddling, and then they saw a waterfall just ahead. Neiko paddled around it and parked the boat on the bank of the hidden cavern. When they entered the hallway, there were pictures and writings. “Neiko, look! We found it!”
“Hmm,” she said as she looked at the letters which were surprisingly in the alphabet of her tribe.
“Well, it’s written in English, but it is written in the alphabet of my tribe. This will be easy for me to translate.”
“That’s good. So, what does it say?”
Neiko looked at the battling figures and the dark, shadowy form of the Dark Pharaoh fighting and slaying them. She ran her finger under the letters as she read. “This is talking about something called the Good Pharaohs. It says that God created powerful beings called Pharaohs to protect the universe from evil.
Escape from Ancient Egypt
The Neiko Adventure Saga
The Neiko Adventure Saga
Genre: YA Fantasy Action Adventure/ Historical Fantasy, time travel
Publisher: Telemachus Press
Number of pages: 290
Word Count: Approx. 90K
Cover Artist: A.K. Taylor, Steve Himes
Seeking his revenge on Neiko for exposing him, Francesco banishes Neiko into ancient Egypt just like he did her friends eleven years ago. During her stay there, she unravels the mystery of what happened to her four friends. Now she’s faced with a bigger problem—how to get home. After a series of unfortunate events, Neiko is now entangled with Pharaoh Ramesses II. Francesco also comes to make sure their fates are sealed. Can Neiko and her friends beat impossible odds and return to Hawote and back to the present?
Neiko’s vision turned from the green light to the world spinning around her in dizzying speed. Neiko wasn’t moving, but she felt like she was in freefall—like someone had cut the cable from an elevator and she was plummeting with it. Descending in what—space and time? The evergreen and colorful deciduous vegetation of the Hawote woodlands changed to a desert with a river with some greenery and palms nearby. The cool autumn air of Hawote in October transformed into stifling, searing, dry heat. Pyramids, sphinxes, and strange statues spun around her after her house, porch, and front yard disappeared within the vortex. It was nighttime in Hawote, but the sun rose and set as time flew by—from west to east--backwards. Beneath her bare feet the wood from her front porch turned to nothing then into hot, soft sand.
Neiko’s world stopped spinning, and the sun was high in the sky. Neiko watched the sun to be sure it didn’t move again. Wherever she ended up, she guessed the time must be about high there judging by the sun’s position in the sky after a few moments of observation. The heat was intense, and she discovered she must be somewhere far from home. “Where?” was the ultimate question. A gust of wind blew the feathers in her long, black hair. Her hair wrapped around her face, and she brushed it back. Sweat beaded out on her body, and she tugged at her shirt and headband. “Phew! It’s hot out here! Where am I--Death Valley?” she asked. Death Valley was the only desert place she thought of off the top of her head. She had never been there, but she’d read and watched TV programs about the place. She looked around, and a city was only a few feet away. She could see the buildings down below from the high dune where she stood. She took a deep breath and fingered the fringed sheath of her knife to reassure her confidence—without thinking and by instinct. Then after a few more seconds, she trudged down to the city in the soft sand from the dune to go find some answers.
Neiko entered the city still dressed in her buckskin, decorated warrior clothes and painted for war. As she took in the sights and from the confusion, she had forgotten she was armed. Her machete was sheathed to her back, and so was her knife on her side. Incense, perfumes, and music filled the air. She didn’t recognize any of the smells, but the music seemed to be like Egyptian reenactments in movies. The buildings were white alabaster covered in brilliant wall paintings. Some men rode on camels like horses and others led them by a leash. Chariots cantered by. Neiko looked around in amazement. This ruled out Death Valley, Arizona. Neiko lifted her eyes to the sun to get a bearing on north. North was as good of a direction as any to begin a search for answers. After her eyes fell from the sun and to the north, she could see the Pyramids of Giza towering in the distance. She recognized them instantly. She had seen enough pictures and documentaries on the monuments—they were unmistakable. Even though they were miles away, they towered above the city and in view. This definitely wasn’t Death Valley.
In that case I can get on the first flight home, she thought. She believed that she had landed in Cairo. This city came to mind because it's the only one close to the Pyramids of Giza. Then she realized she didn’t have any money as she put her hands in the pockets of her buckskin shorts and only felt the house key. She had left her wallet in the car back at home when she left from Phoenix’s house after the battle.
“Well, I can probably make up some story that I was abducted or something—which is sort of true. Really funny, Francesco. I guess you meant no way back since I’m broke. I’ll hitchhike back to Hawote if I have to. I’ll scrounge around to see if I can find some change for a pay phone on the road,” she remarked to herself, and maybe the phone book would have some information on where to find an airport or something. But, then again, would the phonebook be written in English or Arabic? It was a chance she had to take. The worst that could happen was not getting anywhere.
Neiko began walking to find help, change, a pay phone, the U.S. Embassy, an airport, or whatever she could find first. After a few more minutes of exploring, she recognized the clothing of the people: white linen kilts, some wore robes and fine jewelry, some wore headcloths while others did not. No one seemed to be dressed like the Arab residents of 21st century Egypt. “Why is everyone dressed like ancient Egyptians?” she asked herself. She wondered if this was some sort of a cult or a weird secret society that lived like the Amish in Cairo.
A small group of armed soldiers marched in front of her, but they didn’t pay any attention to her. They carried swords, shields, spears, and were dressed in ancient Egyptian armor. She had seen it in books and movies. They weren’t carrying guns or dressed in desert camouflage BDUs like Egyptian soldiers of the 21st century.
She headed farther in to the marketplace. It was obvious since people had shops and bazaars selling goods. People were yelling and haggling. People thrust things at Neiko trying to entice her to buy. Neiko put up her hands and shook her head. She couldn’t understand a word anyone was saying. Funny, no one seemed to be selling T-shirts, souvenirs, or that type stuff for tourists. Quite frankly, no one seemed to be selling any maps.
Neiko walked up to a man who was a merchant at a bazaar. He was selling all manner of fine jewelry. Heavy collars, bracelets, necklaces, arm pieces, earrings were on display. All gaudy like the ancient Egyptians liked. “Excuse me, can you tell me where I am? I seem to be lost. Do you know where I can find a map or where the airport is? A phone?” she asked as she made her hand like a phone and put it to her ear; her thumb the earpiece and her pinkie the mouthpiece.
The man looked at her startled because of her strange appearance and because he couldn’t understand her. He was dressed in linen like everyone else and sported some of that same Egyptian bling since he was a successful jeweler.
“That’s a little out of style, don’t you think? I mean, guys don’t wear eyeliner…and, that skirt and that sheet on your head are not how people dress nowadays. People dress like ancient Egyptians only on Halloween. Last I checked it was still three weeks away,” Neiko said to the man as she shook her head.
Bridgette: Welcome everyone! I have an honored and distinguished guest on the blog today! Ramesses II the Great will be interviewing with us. Ramesses, we are honored that agreed to talk with us. Is this your first blog interview?
Ramesses: The pleasure is mine. I do believe this is my first interview anywhere, especially one of these…these—what are they called again?
Bridgette: *chuckles* A blog? So, how are you feeling today?
Ramesses: Yes, that. *pauses* Amiable, I suppose, but mayhap a little frustrated as well.
Bridgette: Why is that?
Ramesses: I am still having trouble getting Neiko to concede to my wishes and seeing things my way. She is stubborn, but so am I, I suppose. I had a bit of a scuffle with a couple of my rivals on the way here and a tussle with my nemesis.
Bridgette: Hmm, I wasn’t aware you had a nemesis. Is it anyone from your first appearance in the Neiko Saga? Is it someone from your past life?
Ramesses: No. Unlike me and some of my rivals, my nemesis is pretty much unknown except to a select few. I will not speak his name—it is forbidden, and he is to be forgotten. We did not meet during my life. He lived his earthly life about sixty years before my birth, and I spent most of my life tearing down his monuments and building my own atop them. We met in the afterlife. He has graced the paths of a few scribes within the last decade, including this one. You will meet my nemesis soon, and too soon for my comfort, but we are getting ahead of ourselves here. This interview is about me, not him.
Bridgette: That’s interesting. A scribe? I suppose you mean author? How did you meet this author considering you have met quite a few over the course of about three millennia?
Ramesses: Old habits do die hard! I still prefer scribe. Author doesn’t exist in my language, and I do believe they do almost the same thing. I met her when she was still young—when she was still in elementary school. She met me and Tutankhamen first—the rascal. I’ve only met a couple scribes at a tender age as this. I introduced myself slowly to her over time, and now we know each other rather well. I didn’t want to frighten her. It was through her that I met Neiko—the love of my life. That is one of the reasons why I like her and stay around. I also like that she spells and says my name correctly. How it frustrates me how many times my name is misspelled or mispronounced. I could be confused with someone else from another universe.
Neiko and the scribe have known each other for a long time. I’ve been watching Neiko for sometime from a distance, waiting for the right time. She is what brought me to the scribe. Of course, we all had to get acquainted. Alas, my persona seems to have been tarnished by inaccurate portrayals and vicious rumors spread about me by my archenemy. I suppose he would argue that it is recompense for me trying to desecrate his memory and his monuments to erase him. So, he devised the scheme to make the woman I loved hate be before we actually meet, so he could swoop in and steal her from me.
Bridgette: I am so sorry to hear that. Your archenemy sounds like a very bad person. What inaccuracies would you like to rectify for your record?
Ramesses: For one I am not a heartless villain. I am not a villain at all. I utterly turned down an interview request because it was reserved for villains, which I am not. I gave that to someone more deserving. If my archenemy had been in a book yet, he would have the honor for that as well. Every nasty portrayal of me is really of him, and sometimes he makes himself look so kind and harmless, which he is not! I am not perfect, but I can say I am not evil, cruel, and heartless.
To be clear, I never chased Moses to the Red Sea. I’ve never even met the man. He came about after my death. Neiko finds that out after a few moments when I bring her to my house. Another king with my name is responsible, and naturally since I am more notable, I would be blamed for it. I did make a few mistakes before the Exodus took place, but it was in best interest of my country. There was a time that invaders overstayed their welcome and took over—history appeared as if it was going to repeat itself. I acted. What would that say about me if I did nothing? I cannot be remembered for cowardice by my own people. I would have disgraced my father and my family. It was not an easy call as once might imagine. I was the king who died in the beginning of Exodus, not my father.
I can be stubborn and unbending at times, but I am not completely irrational and without pity. I do have feelings, the capacity to feel, and I do care about others. I can get angry and things can go awry. Someone should wear the crown and be in my stead for a day. Then, they won’t be so quick to judge. They can portray my strong side pretty well, but they often forget I have a passionate side. So, most people only halfway know me.
For the story I appear in, the true villain is Francesco. I can see through his lies. He is despicable, but I do get what I want from him. I don’t know what his real reason is for why he sent Neiko to my country and revealed her to me, but I seriously doubt it is for her to have a better life. He says that to me, but I know it’s untrue. I am not quite certain if my happiness and my well-being are priority either. Kenes, the lord of Memphis is a true villain as well. If you want to look at a true villain pharaoh from Egypt that is painted in the way I am portrayed, look at Akhenaten-- *puts hands over mouth* Ugh, I just said his name. It won’t happen again.
Bridgette: Apart from a few inaccuracies, people seem to already know a lot about you. Is there anything that may be uncommon knowledge that the average person wouldn’t know?
Ramesses: Hmm, *rubs chin and beard* I know that most people wouldn’t know that I co-ruled with my father while I was a young man up until his death. Naturally, I became king after that. It was rather bittersweet to say the least. And no, he was not murdered—he died in his sleep. From the stories you hear, I don’t think this would have occurred if Moses was there. He wasn’t. My scribe did not know that for quite a while, but I revealed that to her a few years ago.
I was really the one who did the most damage tearing down and destroying Akh—I mean, the Heretic King’s memory. My father and grandfather started it. I finished it. Egypt wasn’t big enough for both of us.
Bridgette: Can you tell us about your relationship with your father?
Ramesses: I loved my father very much. We were very close. Those portrayals about our relationship are so inaccurate that it is embarrassing. It is actually a disgrace and an insult to both of us. He was a bit strict, yes, but he didn’t treat me like a doddering child, and I didn’t act as such. I did have a rebellious and reckless streak when I was young, but so did he at that age. He understood me, and I was my father’s son. When I was close to ready, he mentioned to me about co-ruling with him, but only until I proved I was worthy. Then it was clear to me that I should—as they say this day and time: ‘man up’? Because of that special bond I became one of the few pharaohs with a title—well, at least one with a positive title.
Bridgette: Well, we know that you love Neiko a lot. How old are you when you meet for the first time? How did she respond to you? Is there a secret you are withholding from her that only you and Sito know?
Ramesses: *smiles* I am in my twenty-third year of life when we meet—she is in her twenty-first. I had only been crowned king only a year prior and my father had passed on. I was merely starting out in my life to who I am supposed to become.
We did not have the best start to our marriage. At the very first she was a bit frightened of me. Later her fear turns to disdain, and I think that is due to the inaccuracies about my character that we have already discussed. She didn’t take too kindly to my high self esteem either. We are both warriors so we tussle and clash in wills. Then she tries to run and hide from me since I get through her defenses. I was well prepared for her ahead of time. *piddles with crook and flail* She thinks I am completely unaware of her feelings for me. She tries to subdue them. She denies they are there at all. She may call it what she will—like not having a choice but to concede. She may acknowledge it privately, but she is not fooling anyone. She forgets about how perceptive I can be when it comes to her; Nefertari has warned her about that before. She will deny it to my face and accuse me of making it up, but I know better. When she was behaving at her worst, I knew I was breaking through, and it was only a matter of time. So, I pushed harder. I won, she lost, and now I intend to reclaim her in due time.
Ah, the secret. There is a secret that only we know…er—Francesco kind of figured it out. Nefertari doesn’t even know about it. I was waiting to the right time to tell her, but that has been severely delayed. I don’t like her friends very much since they contest me and try to keep us apart. They stole her from me!
I won’t be telling you the secret during this interview when not even Neiko knows!
Bridgette: It has been said some of your actions may have been abusive. What is your response to that?
Ramesses: *narrows eyes* I would like to have a talk with whoever said that. I may have done and said some things that may have crossed lines, but I am not the only one at fault here. Neiko and I didn’t have a smooth start. We had time-period, personality, and cultural issues to resolve between us. She was trying to run away. She refused to cooperate with me. I wasn’t taking no for an answer after waiting for so long for her and finding out it was her at last. *pauses* Then her friends were getting involved, and refused to back down and let us alone. My friends were involved offering counsel. Francesco became involved. Nefertari became involved on the wrong side. Then Neiko’s friends are trying to take her away from me, and there is someone else in Hawote; I felt threatened by that and it undermined everything I was trying to accomplish. Neiko hurt me several times in her defiance against me. So, I reacted. I was going to remove all the threats and obstacles out of my way. Indians can be a heady and rowdy lot to be sure--especially when they disagree with you strongly about something. I’m pretty sure they have some choice words to say about me as well and about Egyptians. I did what I had to do. I wasn’t backing down. I wasn’t going to be ignored and disrespected, and I was going to be heard even if I am heard boisterously! Things would have gone much better if it wasn’t for all that brouhaha.
To be clear, I would never strike her and treat her like a beast of burden. I love her, and I would never lay a hand on her in such a manner.
Bridgette: What is Neiko and Nefertari’s relationship like? Why did Nefertari oppose you about Neiko?
Ramesses: They actually go along very well. I was very much surprised. I expected the opposite, and that I would have to keep them from fighting. In a fight, Nefertari would loose very badly against a trained fighter. They act like best friends and I have overheard them talking about something called ‘blood sisters’. Whatever that is supposed to mean. In Egypt, that would mean they are born from the same mother and father, and we all know that isn’t the case. It must be some kind of Indian thing, which I don’t understand. I suppose they treat each other like sisters from the same bloodline though they are friends. If I had to guess, that would be it.
I know there is something going on between Nefertari and Neiko’s friend Sito. They have too many private discussions that I feel comfortable with. They deny that there was ever an affair between them. Sometimes I am not so sure. I think she opposed me because she was listening too intently to the Indian side of the battle and not mine whatsoever. I feel that Sito had some to do with that, too. Her jealousy about the matter was never a factor.
Bridgette: Do you think you will be back anytime in the series? Will we meet your father, your archenemy, or any other of you colleagues?
Ramesses: *smiles and piddles with crook and flail* I will be back, make no mistake. This is far from over. You may see me again as soon as the next book, but I will not be among the living yet. I haven’t forgotten anything about our time together, and there is no escape and there is no divorce—we are still husband and wife even if I have been dead for three millennia because of the travel through time. There is no ‘death do us part’. My ka follows her footsteps and my ba watches from the heavens. You will meet my father very soon. You will meet my archenemy as well and some of my colleagues. Probably as soon as the next book as well in addition to those psychotic Indian terrorists the Black Hand.
Bridgette: Thanks so much again Ramesses for interviewing with us! I hope that it’s okay referring to you on a first name basis.
Ramesses: No. It’s fine for an occasion such as this. *slight bow* I will take my leave now, and I do hope to see you again soon. *waves and leaves*
A.K. Taylor grew up in the backwoods of Georgia where she learned about nature. She enjoys hunting and fishing, beekeeping, gardening, archery, shooting, hiking, and has various collections. She also has interest in music, Native American history and heritage, Egyptian history, and the natural sciences. A.K. Taylor has been writing and drawing since the age of 16. A.K. Taylor has graduated from the University of Georgia with a biology degree, and she shares an interest in herpetology with her husband.